Those enamored with the paranormal world in St. Petersburg may know Dr. Brandy Stark, the leader of The Spirits of St. Petersburg. Her group travels Pinellas and Tampa Bay in search of reported ghosts. There’s not always ghosts, but there is always history to unpack.
Stark is also a professor at St. Petersburg College, the proud owner of four pugs (and a puggle), and a 2022 recipient of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant Program. Her grant, worth $1,000, is going directly to her upcoming St. Pete Halloween attraction: The Perfectly Proper Pop Up Paranormal Museum.
She hopes to open her art-meets-ghost history museum in her studio at the The Art Lofts of St. Petersburg, which sits above Florida CraftArt.
In the meantime, Stark is planning her biggest event of the year, the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt at the Suntan Art Center. Stark has been a board member and artist at the Suntan for more than 10 years.
Here’s a look into her other-worldly life, and a taste of what’s to come this Halloween.
GB: What do you plan to do with your individual artist grant from the St. Pete Art Alliance?
BS: I plan to create the Perfectly Proper Pop Up Paranormal Museum. It will be open in September and October in my studio 208 in the The Art Lofts of St. Petersburg. My goal is to have art paired with QR codes for people to scan and learn about haunted history in Pinellas. There will be images and art inspired by the lure and the legend and I’d like to have a spot where people can tell their paranormal stories.
Will there be just ghost history at the pop-up museum?
Well, we’ll also include things like the rumors of the St. Pete Pier alien testing site that sprung from art laser installations in that area in the 1970s. There will be multiple forms of art: Photography, paintings, digital art – and all sales will go directly to the artists.
What inspired you to do this?
A series of novels about a paranormal museum roadside attraction [called] The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, by Kirsten Weiss. The main character didn’t want this museum, but she took it because she didn’t have a job. It became her thing. I wanted something like that, but seasonal, since rent is so high.
So, do you consider yourself a psychic?
Actually, no. I don’t see ghosts, but I see the results of ghosts. I’ve seen things move, cold spots, that sort of thing.
Why all the pugs?
I grew up with pugs. They’re comfort creatures with no real purpose. There’s never been a time I’ve lived without pugs and they can be real divas or be real sweet. They’re basically perpetual 4-year-olds.
Do any of your pugs go on ghostly investigations with you?
Petropolis started coming with me when he was 7; he’s 11 now. This is his fourth year coming on investigations and he loves to wiggle, so when he stands very still and stares intentionally at a location, that’s a marker. I always have to make sure he’s safe though; if my team gets sucked into a portal that’s one thing, but not my pug.
Where’s the next spot on your paranormal investigation list?
We’re going to Sebring. I can’t say where until it’s confirmed.